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QR Codes and Sourcing – Is It Social?



A cool new technology that has gained popularity over the last year is the QR code. A QR, or “Quick Response”, code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. Some ways you can read QR codes include:

Obviously, the mobile option for reading QR codes is the easiest, hence its appeal to mobile marketing. Lots of companies are starting to use these QR codes to promote their brands, share specials, and basically just heighten awareness of their products and services. But can this be leveraged for recruiting, and more importantly for us, to bolster sourcing efforts?

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Siemens: In 2009, Siemens ran an ad in a German publication called The Journalist with a QR code that took interested readers to its company website and list of open positions. In the ad, it specifically noted what the QR was for, so readers knew where they would end up by scanning the code. (source:
  • TMP: TMP has created a QR code that it can place in collateral and advertising material that will take viewers directly to their job site (which is mobile friendly) to view openings. I’m not sure if they’re using it at the moment, but they had it in a blog post.
  • Michael Marlatt discussed in a post last year how Using QR codes in recruiting material “can easily drive prospective candidates to a website that provides details on upcoming opportunities, special recruiting events, contact information, and so on.” (also check out Marlatt’s presentation from a recent ERE webinar)
  • RECRUIT2retail, an Australia-based retail recruiting agency, uses QR codes in its print advertising to help candidates apply to positions online without having to remember or write down contact information. (source:
  • Companies like Google and Microsoft hold competitions regularly to let technically savvy individuals flex their programming, engineering, and development muscles. These contests obviously serve multiple purposes, one of which is to vet excellent technical talent to hire. QR codes could (should?) be used as parts of these competitions to test participants.

Even job-seekers can get in on the action. Ryan Rantacore writes on Personal Branding 101 how a job-seeker can add a QR code to their paper resume that, when scanned, can take the recruiter to an online resume, a social network profile, a portfolio, or provide additional information about themselves.

So – what’s the deal with sourcing? How can QR codes help make our life easier? Well, our job as sourcers is to uncover talent and potential candidates for our jobs. Some sourcers take it a step further and vet candidates for their recruiters. Particularly for those of you who source for technical roles, using QR codes in your recruiting advertisement will bring you individuals who are obviously interested in your opportunity and/or your company. They’re a great filter for determining interest in one of those two things. Also, they’re a good way to show interest in emerging technology or to test ability to follow directions. (i.e. ‘go to this website’, ‘send an email to with the subject line “QR code application”‘, etc.) So, there are some applications to sourcing by using QR codes as a sort of new-age job posting. If nothing else, it arouses curiosity and can help to facilitate a warm conversation. (not to mention that they’re just awesome, and often include hidden treasures!)

Now – the million dollar question: is this a “social recruiting” technique? Or just a(nother) shiny new toy for us to play with? Share your thoughts below.

Amybeth currently works as the Global Strategic Sourcing Manager Hewlett-Packard’s Cloud division. Prior to this, she worked as a recruiter for the Platform Services team at Concur Technologies, and as a talent sourcer with the Windows Phone team at Microsoft finding software development engineers. She also previously served as the original Editor of SourceCon. All-in-all, Amybeth has been working as a recruitment sourcing professional for over a decade and enjoys finding interesting people for great opportunities.

In related activities outside of work, Amybeth is deeply involved with local recruiting organizations – she previously served on the Board of the Northwest Recruiters Association (NWRA) and is currently actively involved with the Sourcing 7 group in Seattle as a founding member and the current President.

Amybeth is a University of Florida graduate (go Gators!) and currently lives just north of Seattle, WA. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.
  • Master Burnett

    I love QR codes and have used them on several occasions. In the recruiting world I would never use them to point someone to a career site, there is nothing special about that.

    QR codes are best used in campaigns that offer something special to those that have access to them and know what to do with them. For instance, if a company were recruiting at an event and wanted to share a series of video clips leading up to a special invitation from the CEO or key functional leader, they could set up a QR code scavenger hunt placing QR codes around the event that contain a direct link to launch the videos on a mobile device.

    I haven’t found too many people who know what to do with QR codes without instruction, but their use will become more mainstream soon.

    There are a lot of really creative things you can do with QR codes, just don’t use them to point mobile users to the same old crap they are subjected to through other channels.

  • Amybeth Hale

    You bring up some good points, Master. I still believe that they can be a good way to filter potential applicants (following directions, diligence, interest in emerging technologies, etc.) As with any new technology, there will be kinks and bugs, a period of time where we try to figure out how/when/why to use them, and of course the potential that our target audience might not be ready for it. But… no lasting idea that I know of caught on without at least one of these potential issues. As the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed… try, try again.”


  • John Parsons

    Amen, Master. A QR Code is just the door. If the house it leads to is a dump (or, worse still, not completely built), then the effort is a waste of time for everyone. Check out for some interesting “What if…” questions on that score. Just because we can point people to a mobile Web page doesn’t mean they’ll engage with us. It’s all about choice.

  • Arron Daniels

    A little late to the party, but great post! QR codes have endless possibilities. Too often do we see QR codes that lead to no where, a broken link, or to a some place irrelevant. Content is the bread and butter, but placement is another key element. I read an article ( that a building had a QR code painted on top of it, to infiltrate Google maps for free advertising. 

    At the end of the day, I call it sourcing. Anyway you can obtain data that can lead to a hire in my eyes is sourcing.  I especially like QR codes, because it can be a self-multiplier anywhere you may have a landing page, or even physically. Thanks for the post Amybeth.  

    Now let’s see where NFC takes us!

  • Chris Brablc

    Nice Post, Amybeth!

    We have a few organizations that are starting to use QR Codes that are linked to simple mobile opt-in forms at events such as Career Fairs and networking events. This makes it easier for them to get and compile the contact info for candidates into a central database and campaign out to them to ask them for further information and/or a link to an application for relevant jobs. They like it because it’s interactive and is much easier than collecting resumes.

    I see applying through QR codes getting better as the mobile application process becomes improved. But as of now, linking codes to simple mobile forms and recruiting content (video is a great example as Master pointed out) is probably the best use now.

    Overall, I think QR codes provide a fun way to interact for candidates and can be a great way to point candidates to content through print (the use of which will vary by company).